Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Fake News' Is Backfiring Trump's Popular Term Is Used to Discredit the U.S

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Fake News' Is Backfiring Trump's Popular Term Is Used to Discredit the U.S

Article excerpt

After the United States last week accused the Russian-backed Assad regime in Syria of a chemical-weapons attack, Russia had a ready rejoinder: fake news. A Kremlin statement dismissed "the latest fake news about a chemical attack on Douma," calling the charges "absolutely unsubstantiated lies."

After the Trump administration accused China of stealing technology, Beijing responded by calling the charge that it forces foreign firms to share technology "fake news."

Also last week, the U.S. Marine Corps suspended Brig. Gen. Kurt Stein, who disparaged as "fake news" allegations of sexual harassment at his command.

President Donald Trump pioneered the use of the term "fake news" to discredit any report he didn't like. Now the allegation is being used against the U.S. by adversaries and by authoritarians seeking to avoid accountability and silence dissent.

Mr. Trump's constant branding of real events as fake has squandered U.S. credibility. When the U.S. correctly tries to discredit others' disinformation and propaganda, it is now the country that cried wolf. A search of the website Factbase shows that Mr. Trump has used the "fake news" label more than 350 times since December 2016. This month alone, he has used it to cast doubt on topics including Syria, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, China, North Korea, the North American Free Trade Agreement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Sinclair Broadcasting.

Mr. Trump's method is acquiring many unsavory imitators here at home. Roy Moore's Senate campaign in Alabama fought credible allegations about inappropriate relationships with teenage girls by branding them "fake news." White supremacist David Duke thanked Mr. Trump after Mr. Trump retweeted a British anti-Muslim video for "showing us what the fake news media won't."

Overseas, scandal-plagued Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month labeled major Israeli news outlets "fake news" and said they "lie to you night in and night out." Earlier this year, Israel's minister of communications said those "bringing fake news are bringing upon themselves a death sentence."

India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting this month attempted to crack down on journalists for spreading "fake news. …

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